|Liberty of thought means liberty to communicate one's thought. - Salvador de Madariaga|
No. 145, Part I, 29 July 1996
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER WRAPS UP U.S. VISIT. Pavlo Lazarenko ended a two-day working visit to the U.S. on 27 July, Ukrainian radio reported. Lazarenko met there with IMF representatives to discuss the organization's stand-by credit program for Ukraine and the release of a $1.5 billion stabilization loan at the end of the year to support the introduction of Ukraine's national currency, the hryvna. They discussed another credit program whereby some $3 billion would be released to Ukraine over the next three years. Lazarenko also met with World Bank President James Wolfenson. The two men agreed that further economic reforms in Ukraine would be possible only through macroeconomic stabilization and that such stabilization could be achieved only with international financing. -- Ustina Markus INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY IN BELARUS. Some 15,000 peopled rallied on 27 July to mark the fifth anniversary of Belarus's declaration of independence, Russian and international agencies reported. The authorized rally ended peacefully, despite the presence of some 10,000 fully armed security troops. Demonstrators shouted slogans against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and carried the former national red-and- white flags, instead of the new Soviet-style flags, as a sign of protest against the president's policies. Lukashenka the previous day said that Belarus was building an independent state "while preserving valuable links." He said the "Community of Russia and Belarus" was an expression of the people's protest "against the artificial break-up of a great country." -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN DEPUTIES CALL FOR IMPEACHING PRESIDENT. At the Independence Day rally, representatives of the United Civic Party, the Social- Democratic Hramada, the Belarusian Popular Front, and other liberal parties called for a campaign to collect the signatures of those deputies in favor of impeaching President Lukashenka, ITAR-TASS reported. Article 104 of the Belarusian Constitution, adopted in March 1994, states that the president can be impeached for violating the constitution by a vote of at least two-thirds of the parliament. The issue of impeachment can be raised if at least 70 deputies sign a petition to that effect. -- Ustina Markus FORMER ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER NOT TO BE STRIPPED OF IMMUNITY. State Prosecutor Indrek Meelak on 26 July said he was closing the case the security police had opened against Edgar Savisaar because he find nothing criminal in his conduct, ETA reported. Meelak added he would not try to strip him of immunity as a parliament deputy. Savisaar was forced to resign as interior minister and Center Party chairman last fall in a scandal over the illegal taping of private conversations with other Estonian politicians. Savisaar subsequently regained the leadership of the Center Party, but some members withdrew from it in protest and formed the Progress Party. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA'S REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MERGE WITH DEMOCRATIC PARTY SAIMNIEKS. Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) Chairman Ziedonis Cevers and Republican Party head Andris Plotnieks on 26 July signed an agreement whereby their parties will merge, BNS reported. The parties also issued a joint statement stating that they "both represent centrist views" and that they believe their merger will help create a stable and transparent political party system. Republican Party members are to be registered as DPS members by 1 September, and the party will cease to exist after the next DPS congress amends its statutes and adopts a new party program. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA, GERMANY AGREE ON NAZI COMPENSATION. The German Foreign Ministry on 26 July announced that Germany will pay 2 million German marks ($1.5 million) in compensation to Lithuania for atrocities committed during the Nazi occupation, BNS reported. The money will be used to fund an old people's home, a nursing home, and two hospitals for surviving Nazi victims. Lithuania, in turn, agreed not to demand further compensation from Germany. Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the compensation was "peanuts" and "extremely unsatisfactory for the roughly 300 survivors in Lithuania." Germany has reached a similar accord with Estonia and is negotiating one with Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH "WHITE BOOK" FOR EU MEMBERSHIP SUBMITTED TO BRUSSELS. Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati has handed over Poland's "white book" on full EU membership to EU Ambassador in Warsaw Rolf Timmans, Zycie Warszawy reported on 29 July. The white book is Poland's answer to the questionnaire submitted by the European Commission to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. It consists of 2,664 pages and provides concrete details of Poland's application for full membership. According to Rosati, the material submitted by Poland will allow the Commission to assess Poland's progress in the protection of minority and civil rights, the development of a market economy, and the harmonization of Polish law with the EU's legal and regulatory framework. Poland is the last of the four Central European countries to hand in its "white book." -- Ben Slay POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER REFUSES TO RULE ON POST-COMMUNIST PARTY'S DEBTS. Polish Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki has refused to rule on the issue of 20 million zloty ($7.4 million) in communist-era debts that judicial officials claim are the responsibility of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SdRP), Gazeta wyborcza reported 27-28 July. The SdRP-- which forms the core of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the senior partner in Poland's coalition government--is the legal successor of the Communist Party (PZPR), which ruled Poland for 40 years. A number of criminal and civil claims against the PZPR's assets have been made since the party's liquidation in 1990. However, the SdRP, the largest inheritor of the PZPR's assets, has managed to avoid making payments by arguing that its coffers are empty--despite the fact that the SLD is widely thought to have the best-developed infrastructure of Poland's political parties. -- Ben Slay CZECH PARLIAMENT ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS. By a margin of one vote, the parliament on 26 July rejected a proposal by the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) that a special law on the restitution of Catholic Church property be passed, Czech media reported. The CSSD objects to government plans to issue decrees on returning a large amount of former Church property, thereby circumventing the parliament. The minority government coalition, however, suffered a defeat the same day when a Communist Party proposal was approved according to which the government is to submit to the parliament a plan for separating Church and state and a blueprint for financing Churches before the restitution of Church property begins. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES U.S. OF DOUBLE STANDARDS. Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 26 July that the U.S. Congress is "wrong" to leave his country off the list of financial assistance recipients for NATO integration. "If Hungary, with its government's nationalistic policies [and] interference in the internal affairs [of neighboring countries]...becomes a NATO member, then a strategy of double standards is more than obvious," Meciar said. He commented that Slovakia's omission from the list is partly in reaction to internal political developments and geopolitical relations, stressing that "many untruths are said about us abroad." Nonetheless, he insisted that Slovakia's interest in NATO membership has not declined. Meanwhile, Peter Weiss, deputy chairman of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left, accused the ruling coalition of failing to take the U.S. Congress's decision seriously. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES DISCUSS AUTONOMY. Slovak and Hungarian deputies met in Bratislava on 26 July to discuss a declaration issued in Budapest earlier this month calling for autonomy for Hungarians living in neighboring countries, Slovak media reported. The Bratislava meeting- -initiated by Slovak Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik--focused on explaining the meaning of the word "autonomy," which was not defined in the Hungarian declaration. Slobodnik's Hungarian counterpart, Matyas Eorsi, said the Hungarians called for "neither territorial nor ethnic autonomy" in their declaration. Slobodnik told CTK that he "can imagine" discussions of educational and cultural autonomy for Slovakia's Hungarians; however, Hungarian politicians in Slovakia would first have to "change their behavior." The committee members agreed to continue discussions this fall. -- Sharon Fisher TRIAL DATE SET FOR SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN DAM CONTROVERSY. The long-standing dispute between Slovakia and Hungary over the Gabcikovo hydroelectric power plant could be settled by next spring, Hungarian media reported on 26 July. The International Court of Justice in The Hague will begin considering the two sides' positions on 17 February 1997. Hungarian Foreign Ministry official Gyorgy Szenasi said the court will pass a ruling of principle and that the two sides will have to reach an agreement on its implementation within six months. Szenasi noted that experts representing Hungary are optimistic about that country's position. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EU WARNS CROATIA OVER MOSTAR BOYCOTT. The EU on 26 July warned Croatia that it will be responsible if Mostar's Croats continue to boycott the Mostar City Council, AFP reported. The city council was elected last month in Bosnia's first post-war poll. Dutch ambassador Jozef Scheffers informed the Croatian Foreign Ministry that Croatia will face consequences in its relations with the EU if it does not convince the Bosnian Croats to accept the election results. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said he will "seriously consider" the EU ultimatum but stressed he will not accept "solutions that are degrading or unjust for the Croatian people," Vecernji list reported on 29 July. But Croatia's hard- line defense minister, Gojko Susak, said he backed the Croatian boycott because "the Bosnian Croats would have no chance in the [September] general elections" if they accepted the results of the Mostar poll. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA RALLY FOR AUTONOMY. An estimated several thousand Serbs rallied in the town of Vukovar on 28 July, demanding autonomy and the extension of the one-year mandate for the U.N. Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) before the Serb-held enclave comes under Croatia's jurisdiction in January 1997, Reuters reported. Rally organizers also demanded "civil rights guarantees for Serbs and political and economic autonomy from the central government in Zagreb." The news agency observed that the Serbs' demands for autonomy may be "unrealistic," particularly at this stage and particularly since rump Yugoslavia has agreed to the Croatian army's jurisdiction over its internationally recognized borders. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN SERBS BRING LEGAL ACTION AGAINST BELGRADE. Thirty Serbian refugees from Croatia are to bring legal action against Belgrade on charges of knowingly violating and ignoring internationally recognized regulations and conventions on the treatment of refugees, Onasa reported. Natasa Kandic, head of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Foundation, said the thirty are among the some 40,000 ethnic Serbian refugees from Croatia's Krajina region who were systematically press- ganged by Belgrade authorities and forced to fight in front-line combat units. According to Onasa, an estimated 4,000-6,000 ethnic Serbs from Croatia who were forcibly conscripted by Belgrade continue to be listed as killed, wounded, captured, or missing. -- Stan Markotich EXPLOSIONS AT CROATIAN ARMS FACTORY INJURE 18. Two major explosions and six minor ones rocked the arms factory in Slavonski Brod, 250 kilometers east of Zagreb, injuring 18 people, AFP reported on 26 July, citing Croatian radio. The factory, which produced weapons for the Croatian army during the 1991-1992 war against the rebel Croatian Serbs, was razed to the ground. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIA, IRAN SIGN MEMORANDUM ON ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic and First Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi, meeting in Sarajevo on 27 July, signed a memorandum on trade and economic cooperation, Onasa reported. The two countries will also cooperate in civilian air traffic. The officials discussed the reconstruction of the Zenica steel works, with the Iranian side agreeing to release this year a fifth of the $50 million credit pledged to Bosnia-Herzegovina for setting up small companies and for reconstruction. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT ON UPCOMING BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. Signaling that relations between Belgrade and the current Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale are under strain, Zoran Lilic has said that the 14 September elections in Bosnia will "eliminate from power the illegal regimes...[whose mandates] ran out a long time ago." He added that the elections will pave the way for the consolidation of democratic institutions, AFP reported on 28 July, citing local Belgrade media reports. Lilic also praised the international community's peace efforts in Bosnia, noting that the normalization of relations with the other republics of the former Yugoslavia was one of Belgrade's priority. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN ELECTIONS SCHEDULED. Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic on 27 July announced that republican parliamentary elections will be held on 3 November, Tanjug reported. Balloting is expected to take place in accordance with recent controversial legislation dividing Montenegro into 14 electoral districts and stipulating a proportional representation system of voting (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1996). It is speculated that parliamentary elections in Serbia will be held on or around the same day. -- Stan Markotich ILIESCU NOMINATED PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 26 July nominated Ion Iliescu as its candidate in the fall presidential elections, Romanian and Western media reported. PDSR Executive Chairman Adrian Nastase made the announcement at a nationwide convention. Iliescu, 66, was elected Romania's first post- communist president in 1990 and re-elected in 1992. The PDSR fared poorly in the June local elections, and its image has been seriously damaged by accusations of corruption. Opinion polls suggest that Iliescu may retain his post but is unlikely to win an outright majority in the first round of voting, scheduled for 3 November. His main rivals are Emil Constantinescu, leader of the Democratic Convention of Romania, and Petre Roman, former prime minister under Iliescu and chairman of the Democratic Party--National Salvation Front. -- Dan Ionescu UPDATE ON BULGARIAN GRAIN CRISIS. EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler on 27 July announced that the EU will help Bulgaria to deal with its grain shortage, Reuters reported. He said specialists will visit Bulgaria in September to help analyze its agricultural problems, adding that the EU is ready to provide assistance but needs a clear picture of the country's grain and land market to plan investment credits. He urged the government to speed up agricultural reforms in order to raise productivity. Bulgarian farmers are reluctant to undertake extensive planting because the state-run grain purchasing agency pays only a fraction of world market prices. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 26 July told the parliament that Bulgaria must import 1.5 million metric tons of grain to secure sufficient supplies. Demokratsiya on 27 July reported that Videnov has unblocked the military and state grain reserves and that the opposition may ask the prosecutor-general to investigate the case. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN CHURCH TO ANATHEMATIZE ANOTHER CHURCH'S HEAD. The official Bulgarian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Maksim, on 26 July announced it will anathematize Metropolitan Pimen, Reuters reported. Pimen heads clergymen who oppose Maksim and accuse him of collaborating with the former communist regime. Pimen's followers also claim that Maksim was appointed rather than properly elected patriarch when he took office in 1971. Their election of Pimen as the new patriarch on 3 July has not been recognized by the state or the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The anathematizing is expected to be carried out in March 1997, a priest said. Declaring someone anathema is a final and irrevocable act formally severing that person from the Church. So far, the Holy Synod has expelled all rebel bishops from it ranks but has not anathematized them. -- Stefan Krause U.S. URGE NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 27 July demanded that new elections be held in Albania, Reuters and Gazeta Shqiptare reported. Burns said Tirana did not respond satisfactorily to foreign observers' complaints about the recent parliamentary elections. He also noted that re-runs in 17 constituencies in mid-June were also unsatisfactory. Until now, the U.S. had only asked for a partial re-run to correct obvious irregularities. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rudolf Perina said the U.S. is reviewing its ties with Albania, including financial aid. Meanwhile in Tirana, the ruling Democratic Party blamed the Greek lobby in the U.S. for the change in the American position. Visiting EU Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek the previous day said the local elections in October will be a test influencing Albania's future ties with the EU. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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